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The Open Boat
Throughout my reading I have found that Crane uses many symbolic objects to depict true-life events. He uses symbols such as towers, animals, and waves. Crane leaves so much to the reader’s imagination that the story can be considered magical and mysterious. The composition leaves many details up to the readers inference, however after further research a full picture to the events that transpired that cold January are uncovered.


The Open Boat,” is very rich in symbolism. Symbolism evokes or describes ideas and feelings through the use of symbolic images. In chapter seven of “The Open Boat,” the narrator describes a tower. “It was a giant, standing with its back to the plight of the ants” (Crane 297). The tower represents many different things. To the men in the boat the tower may represent freedom, hope, or a win against nature. While to the reader the quote may mean something else. The narrator leads me to believe that “ants” represent people, and one would believe that ants are low on the food chain and meaningless insects. In comparison it is kind of like a fight against man and nature.


When reading the story you see how cruel the sea is to the men and what a struggle it is to survive in nature’s pool. Then again, the men crave for comfort of land and its soothing certain ways. But in between land and sea sky’s a tower that may mean hope and may mean death. Crane symbolizes the nature of waves as he alludes to the nature of human life. \"A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important and just as nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats.\" Life parallels this statement. Just as the boat recovers from one wave, another is on the way. This is the same structure human life takes daily. Therefore Crane is alluding to the fact that by symbolizing the waves to life itself he is making a statement about how the men felt in regard to the sea. Life is a series of obstacles that one has no choice but to endure. In a more specific sense the ocean was nothing more than a series of obstacles the men had no choice but to endure.


When asked why the indifference of nature is such a blow to man, you have to think about how nature treated the men when they were out to sea. When you are somewhere doing something and everything is going wrong for you. Some times you say “God why does this have to happen to me”. At times you feel as though it may be bad luck, but other times you may think it is a higher power punishing you. The way the captain of the boat reacted and the statements he made to the others, my foresight was that he felt Mother Nature did not want him to succeed. Stephen Crane shows us a universe totally unconcerned with the affairs of humankind; it is an indifferent universe in which Man has to struggle to survive.


The characters in the story come face to face with this indifference and are nearly overcome by Nature\'s lack of concern. They survive only through persistence and cooperation. All we have, Crane asserts, in our constant struggle for survival, is “stubborn pride and each other.” When the crew looked for signs to show them that they were not alone in this monstrous dark ocean they found many symbolic objects. The birds sat comfortably in groups, and some in the dingy envied them, for the wrath of the sea was no more to them than it was to a covey of prairie chickens a thousand miles inland.\"


The men are in a desperate situation, but nature continues in its ways regardless of what might happen to them. The sun continues to rise and set everyday. The shore is lonely and indifferent. \"They are even regarded by a shark, who apparently finds no use for them.” The men, however, seem removed from the clockwork of their surroundings; separate, but somehow in the midst of everything happening around them. This indifference causes the men to feel certain isolation from nature. They even go as far as to think of the universe as being hostile: \"The waves were nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats.\" This is, however, just normal activity of nature, not any act of aggression against Man.


"When it occurs to man that nature does not regard him as important,
and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of
him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates
deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples. Any visible
expression of nature would surely be pelted with jeers” (Crane 294).


It seems to them that their situation is hopeless. He wants to throw bricks at the temple because he wishes to strike out at nature, but since nature is not a temple he cannot strike out against it. I feel that he wants revenge on God for the situation that has occurred. There is no temple because he is without God and all by himself. The men are feeling frustrated, mad or even abandon by God/nature.


Crane states, “A high cold star on a winter’s night is the word he feels that she (nature) says to him. Thereafter, he knows the pathos of the situation” (Crane 294). These men feel that they have no guidance; no one is looking after them pointing them in the right direction. The “pathos” very lonely, in a world that does not care whether you survive or not, it is a relationship of man to nature.


When you realize that the world can drop you and forget you, you realize importing things. Crane gives us a dose of reality that at first seems bitter, but it gradually induces a catharsis and in the end stands as testament to the human spirit. His claim that the universe will never bend to the will of man is outweighed by his reassurances that we will always have each other. And when we contemplate \"a high cold star on a winter\'s night\" we will not need to feel alone, because we can always turn to another person, and we are connected by human bond. That is Crane’s solution to his and his character’s apparent meaninglessness.

As you can see through his personal experiences, emotion is shown. Ironically with out this emotion, Crane beautifully appeals to the reader through extensive imagery, allusions, as well as overall structure.

 

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